Greek transport minister announces safety measures to improve national railway system
Greece's Minister of Transport, Giorgos Gerapetritis said that February's tragic train crash would not have happened if there had been a complete rail telecommunications system in the country at a press conference on Wednesday.
His comments came amid an announcement on new rail safety measures which will upgrade the network's security system and technology.
The recently-appointed Gerapetritis also expressed his sorrow for the "unprecedented national tragedy that has left its mark on us all".
The minister praised the efforts of the railway workers, who are willing to do everything in their power to upgrade safety measures. He also said that a stricter framework will be introduced for vandalism and thefts involving the railway network.
On February 28, 57 people, many of them in their teens and 20s, were killed when a northbound passenger train and a southbound freight train collided north of the city of Larissa.
Greece’s railways have long suffered from chronic mismanagement, including lavish spending on projects that were eventually abandoned or significantly delayed.
State railway company Hellenic Railways reportedly put off maintenance work for years and were billions of euros in debt.
The crash sparked international outrage and thousands of demonstrators have since marched in protests across the country decrying the country's battered railway grid.
The former minister, Kostas Karamanlis resigned while the government promised a full investigation into the crash.
The 59-year-old stationmaster who was on duty allegedly directed the two trains travelling in opposite directions onto the same track, while the signalling system in the area malfunctioned six years ago and was never repaired.
He was charged with negligent homicide and jailed pending a trial on Sunday.
Meanwhile, dozens of masked, black-clad protesters hurled Molotov cocktails and stones at riot police as more than 40,000 took to the streets of the capital on Wednesday.
Clashes broke out between police and protesters in central Athens, as police fired tear gas at firebomb-throwing protesters outside parliament buildings.